San Antonio City Council declares racism a public health crisis

D10 Councilman Clayton Perry abstains from voting, citing ‘divisive’ language in resolution

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio City Council declared racism a public health crisis on Thursday, passing a resolution that, among other promises, “commits to advocating for racial justice as a core element of all policies, programs, and procedures.”

The resolution was passed by all council members, except District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez, who was absent, and District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry, who abstained from voting.

The resolution does not make any immediate changes. However, it includes various commitments to pursue racial equity, like reviewing policies and procedures to eliminate racial bias and working with historically marginalized communities to find solutions for health equity issues. Residents and council members alike noted that actual action would still need to follow.

"We are here for systemic change and not just for check-the-box exercises," said the city's Chief Equity Officer Zan Gibbs, who presented the resolution to council members.

The resolution resulted from a merger of drafts supported by District 2 Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan and District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval, with input from the city's Office of Equity and the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District's Office of Health Equity.

Andrews-Sullivan became visibly emotional as she read the entire resolution aloud before Thursday's vote. The document references various challenges people of color face, including worse health outcomes and harder economic circumstances in Bexar County.

It also includes numerous examples of historic racism, including slavery, Jim Crow laws, redlining policies, segregated lunch counters, and the 1918 Porvenir Massacre in West Texas, which was perpetrated by white cattlemen, Texas Rangers, and U.S. Army Cavalry soldiers.

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